|our daughter and her husband at the back and our son and his wife at the front|
My good husband and I went up to the city a week or so ago to spend some time with our 'grown and flown' children. I don't appreciate how much I miss them until I get the chance to sit and talk and watch them all together - it just makes me day.
We don't often get to see the two couples in the same place at the same time, and with their aversion to photographs, I realized that I didn't actually have a picture of the four of them together. To solve that dilemma I figured the way to any young married/mortgage paying person's heart is through a free lunch. As we all know, there is no such thing as a "free" lunch and this time it cost them the princely sum of squishing up together and smiling for their mother. After several really awful photos (the fault of the camera and it's user), this is the final result and I am so proud to be their mum!
The other benefit of the parent provided lunch was having the time to sit around and chat and relax and catch up on everyone's news and just to bask in family time. A lot of empty nesters have children living close by and get to see them regularly for family meal times and they pop in and out of each other's lives on a weekly basis. When you live a couple of hours apart and your children are busy all the time, those moments are rarer and I store them up in my heart for the spaces in between.
We had such a lovely time together and the laughter and story telling and sharing together is something I just love. My husband tells me that one of the main adjectives he would use to describe me is 'family focused' and I do really appreciate the time our children find in their lives to spend with us. Part of me wants to race up to the city every spare weekend, but I know that would be overkill on my part and I don't really need to be that enmeshed in their worlds. They are independent and we are very proud of that.
I am a huge proponent of the empty nest and can cite multiple benefits of being child free, but I will admit to a moment or two of sadness when we came home to our cats and the quiet and knowing that it will be another couple of months before we see the fledglings again. Our son was describing his first and only crash from a sugar high that he had after eating three huge slices of chocolate cheesecake at work, and I think that describes how I felt when I got home. All the "high" of being together followed by the silence of coming home. Fortunately all "crashes" are recovered from and it's back to normal life now for us - but I can't wait til we see them again next month!